Over/Underrated 2015 – Part Five

19 Jan

Overrated

Meghan Trainor

If I were writing this article at the start of 2015, I’d probably be putting Meghan Trainor on the On Pointe list. After all, her single “All About That Bass” was arguably one of the best songs of the summer. Throw in her positive messages about female body image, and it seemed certain that Trainor was a star on the rise. Unfortunately, Trainor didn’t make the cut in 2015, and, well, her star’s trajectory has changed a bit since then.

It’s rare to be able to pinpoint the exact point in a musician’s career where the 180º turn from fame to flop was made. For Trainor, however, that point is very clearly when “Dear Future Husband” was released as a single in March of 2015. Up until that point, Trainor had been radiating female empowerment, touting messages of “love me like I am,” and “I’m not a dumb broad who will put up with your bullshit excuses.”

“Dear Future Husband,” on the other hand, negates all that. Firstly, the concept of waiting around for a “future husband” in itself is demeaning. If that weren’t enough, awesomely terrible lyrics such as, “I’ll be the perfect wife, buying groceries,” and “If you wanna get that special lovin’ tell me I’m beautiful each and every night” are ten steps backward for all womankind. Sure, she also says that she won’t be home baking apple pies each day, but by that point the message is contradictory at best, and the damage is already done.

Trainor’s fourth single, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” isn’t much better. Even the smooth vocals of John Legend aren’t enough to save a song that’s “live while we can” theme has been done thousands of times before by artists thousands of times better.

Even Trainor’s retro sound isn’t exactly breaking any molds. Sure it’s catchy at first, but you need more than a sound to have true staying power in the music industry. Artists like Amy Winehouse have done the soul thing before, with much greater success. The difference comes in the weight of the songs and the impact they have on listeners. Winehouse poured her soul into her songs, and fans were able to instantly connect to her raw emotional themes. Fans wanting to connect emotionally with Trainor find themselves grasping at straws.

Trainor’s songs my be earworms, but both her lyrics and her persona lack any true depth. As long as Trainor leaves her listeners wading in shallow waters, her career is sure to wash out with the tide. If only I could say we’d miss her.

mt

Underrated

Agent Carter

I know that I’ve been a tad bit harsh in the past when it comes to the monotony of television programming. I’ve vented my annoyance with shows about doctors/lawyers/cops until I turned blue in the face, and recently I’ve added superhero shows to my frustration list. So why, then, does Agent Carter, a show set within the Marvel Universe, make this year’s underrated?

Because Agent Peggy Carter is not your average superhero.

For starters, she’s not technically a “superhero” at all. She doesn’t possess super strength, she can’t mutate into any sort of killing machine, she has no heightened senses, and not a single part of her is machine. What she is, is an officer of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), a top secret Allied war agency originally founded to battle the terrifying weapons created by the Nazis during WWII. Basically, she’s a kick ass spy, complete with killer (pun intended) gadgets, stunning disguises, and dangerous missions. Despite the fact that there’s technically nothing “super” about Carter, she still proves herself time and time again to be not only the brains behind most of her missions, but the brawn as well. She’s a refreshing and relatable change from the average Marvel characters who can only seem to save mankind with the help of the supernatural or alien technology.

Then there’s the fact that Agent Carter is, obviously, a woman. This makes Agent Carter the very first female-led project in the Marvel Universe. The significance of Carter’s gender on today’s television landscape (better late than never, Marvel) mirrors the significance of Carter’s gender in her own 1940s context. The show is set after WWII, and Carter has been relegated to the position of secretary at the SSR, despite her glaring over-qualifications. In spite of her exclusion from the men’s that is the SSR, Carter doesn’t let her frustrations keep her from saving the SSR from itself. Agent Carter may not know it, but she’s breaking down sexist barriers of the past, as well as the present.

Lastly, Agent Carter is pure, straight up fun. While Carter is a character vulnerable in her humanity and fragile in her grief (“RIP,” Captain America), the show never feels heavy. The rapport between Carter (played by the fabulous Hayley Atwell) and her enthusiastic  (and hilarious) sidekick Jarvis is witty and electric, and there are plenty of explosions and ass-kickings to keep action fans invested. Throw in the glamorous backdrop of 1940s New York City (the cars! the lipstick! the hats!), and you’ve got yourself a show that’s not only wildly entertaining, but visually drool-worthy as well.

Even though Agent Carter received primarily positive reviews from critics and fans alike, skeptics couldn’t help but point out that Carter’s ratings were low for Marvel standards. While it’s true that the ratings for Carter weren’t stellar, one could argue that Agent Carter is just the bit of lighthearted “realistic” fun that the Marvel Universe needs to expand its stereotypical fan base. Thankfully, ABC ignored the skeptics and saw Agent Carter for the gem it really is; season two of Agent Carter premieres on ABC tonight. 

AC

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